Healthcare workers in the remote Torres Strait Islands will soon receive Australian-made ventilation hoods to help protect staff from COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP virus, amid a nearby outbreak in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
The first of three ventilation Medihoods are being sent to a remote hospital in the Torres Strait after vaccinations were paused in the region.
The hospital is a referral point for 17 Primary Health Care Centres in the Torres Strait Islands.
The islands in the Torres Strait are home to many indigenous Australians who are classed as being among the most vulnerable to the virus’s health impacts.
Rural Doctors Association of Australia President John Hall said the additional layer of protection was needed in light of the recent clusters traced back to health staff at Princess Alexandra hospital in southeast Queensland.
Hall said the Medihoods would “protect not just the health professionals treating COVID patients, but also the broader community.”
Vaccinations in the northern region had been a priority given the number of vulnerable communities and proximity to PNG. But the rollout was paused last week in response to changing advice for the AstraZeneca jab.
“The recommendation that Pfizer vaccine is administered to under 50s in preference to AstraZeneca for people who have not yet had their first dose has implications for regions such as ours where the majority of our population base is aged under 50,” Torres and Cape Executive Director of Medical Services Tony Brown said on April 9.
“We will keep our communities informed as we firm up plans for the continuing rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination program across our region and the delivery of second doses to communities such as Saibai, Boigu, and Dauan, which have already had their first doses.”
The transparent plastic cover of the Medihoods fit above the head and torso of suspected COVID patients, acting as a physical barrier between them and health workers. A pump then sucks air from within the hood to a hospital-grade air filter.
“Given the potential for coronavirus to spread to Thursday Island from PNG, the McMonty Medihoods will be a critical tool in helping protect health professionals and other patients at Thursday Island Hospital,” Royal Doctors Association Queensland Foundation Chairperson, Dr Dan Halliday, said.
The Australian-made Medihoods were funded by the RDAQ Foundation and Rural Doctors Association of Australia.
The hoods were designed and developed by a University of Melbourne engineering team led by Professor Jason Monty (Head of Mechanical Engineering) in collaboration with Intensive Care specialist Associate Professor Forbes McGain from Western Health (Melbourne).
The Rural Doctors Association of Australia said that clinical trials of the hoods in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) at Western Health’s Footscray and Sunshine Hospitals (hospitals where more than 60 COVID ICU patients have been treated) had been promising.
The hoods are made in Australia by the Evan Evans manufacturing group spin-off company, Medihood, helping ensure the security of supply should COVID-19 impact international supply lines in the future.
“At Medihood we believe that it’s vitally important to insure the Australian public against shortfalls of healthcare supplies by manufacturing locally,” Daniel Retman, Medihood’s director of sales, told The Epoch Times.
“The benefits of this extend well beyond accessibility and have a positive impact on local jobs, the economy and our international reputation as a world-leader in healthcare.
“As a local brand, we’re proud to make a global impact by being able to export a product that is truly making a difference and saving lives—especially in developing nations,” he said.
The announcement of the ventilation medihoods comes as Queensland recorded its first COVID-related death this year. An 80-year-old man who travelled from the Philippines to Australia via PNG died in a Brisbane hospital.
His is the seventh COVID-related death in Queensland, Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said.